Have you always wanted to own a three-colored cat? If you are into mild-mannered cats with eccentric coat colorations, a Calico Maine Coon is a great choice. These felines have the signature Maine Coon temperament and they come in distinctive tri-colored coats.
Calico Maine Coon: Color variants and genetics
Maine Coons come in various coat patterns and colors but the calico pattern is considered a popular choice among cat lovers. Calico Maine Coons have a white base color along with notable patches of red and black. The intensity of the blacks and reds in a calico’s coat will depend on the breeding.
You may be wondering why these cats are called calico. This term originally meant an unbleached, light cream-colored cotton fabric. During the 18th century, the said textile was printed with patterns and used for patchwork quilts. It eventually found its way to refer to cats with striking coat colorations since they resemble patchworks.
To be considered a calico, Maine Coon cats should have three distinct fur colors including white, red and black. Each calico cat retains its uniqueness because while they all have three colors, the pattern with which the colors appear is unique for each one and no two calico cats have the same pattern.
There are eight pattern variations of Calico Maine Coons recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association or CFA. However, only female calicos are eligible to participate in cat shows since males have genetic anomalies.
These variants include the following:
1. Dense or standard calico
The standard calico is considered the most common pattern or variant. It combines patches of white with dense patches of solid red and black. Some cats with this pattern have predominantly white fur and the remaining 25% divided between red and black but there are others with the reverse pattern since they may only have 25% white and the rest split between red and black. Their coat is dense and has no red or black dilution while the white fur is usually on the cat’s belly, bib and legs.
This particular pattern is also known as tricolor, parti-color or piebald while others refer to it as unbridled since each color patch is a single color with no other color interspersed in between.
2. Dilute calico
Cats with this pattern have muted versions of the dense coat colors due to the dilution gene. The dense coat black is replaced with blue/ grey while the vibrant red is replaced with cream fur. The pattern also has unbridled patches as with the earlier pattern.
3. Dense shell calico
Maine Coons with this pattern are white with unbridled black patches and various red shades. Their hair shafts on the back, sides and tail are lightly tipped with black and red shades. The face and legs may also have shaded tips and the underparts are mainly white.
4. Dilute shell calico
Cats with this pattern are the same as the dense shell variant except that where the dense version is black with red shades, the dilute version has blue patches and cream shades.
5. Dense shaded calico
Maine Coons with this pattern are white with unbridled black patches and red shades. They also have a unique mantle of black and red shades on the sides, face and tail. The face and legs may have deeper shades compared to the rest of their bodies. Their look is much darker than those with the shell calico pattern.
6. Dilute shaded calico
This pattern is the same one as the dense shaded pattern but instead of black fur, with have grey or blue and instead of the red shades with cream shades. The overall coat appearance is darker than that of the dilute shell calico pattern.
7. Dense smoke calico
Maine Coons with this pattern have white fur with unbridled black patches and red shades with white undercoat. When these cats sit still they resemble those with the dense calico pattern but they have red and black fur which can be seen when they move.
8. Dilute smoke calico
These cats are similar to the earlier patterns but they have blue or grey fur instead of black and cream shades instead of red ones.
Are all Calico Maine Coon cats female?
No, not all calico cats are females. However, the chance of having a calico male is very rare. This is because the traditional characteristics of these cats are in the chromosomes that make cats female, thus, most calico cats are female.
What makes a Maine Coon cat a calico?
Calico female cats have two X chromosomes and males have an X and Y chromosomes. The X chromosome affects a cat’s fur coloration so for a calico cat to be conceived it should have the sex-linked red coloration including the black coloration. Also, for a cat to be classified as a calico it must have white on the body.
Other cat breeds aside from the Maine Coon breed that feature a calico pattern include the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Domestic Shorthair, Domestic Longhair, American Curl, Exotic Shorthair, Munchkin, Japanese Bobtail and Norwegian Forest Cat.
Cats with the calico pattern are considered lucky and it was believed that Japanese sailors once brought these cats to their ships to serve as their protectors. These cats have the same temperament as most Maine Coons and are very sociable, loyal and love to follow their humans around. They are also affectionate, intelligent and have dog-like qualities.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nynke van Holten